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10/1/2017 7:00 AM

Are Fast Casuals in Trouble?

Once considered the future of dining, fast casual restaurants launched in the ’90s and enjoyed steady growth until a recent slowdown. Marrying the convenience of fast food with the more comfortable atmosphere of a casual sit-down restaurant, fast casuals appealed to Millennials wanting a pleasant experience without tipping or table service. It’s also been a great marketplace for healthier ingredients than were generally found at fast food establishments. Restaurants like Chipotle and Panera capitalized on consumer demand for fresh and “clean” menu items, and these differentiators contributed to growth in the fast casual market. But as sales growth has slowed to 6-8% (versus 10-11% through the first half of this decade), are fast casuals in trouble? What’s next for this industry segment?

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

9/17/2017 7:00 AM

Hot and Spicy are the "New Black" in Dining

Gone are the days of delicately seasoned cuisine to appeal to the big middle of dining patrons. More than just the result of small change over time, diverse and adventurous consumers crave unique and creative dishes that bring on the heat. Hot-and-spicy—it’s the “new black” of what’s for dinner...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

9/3/2017 7:00 AM

Obama-Era Overtime Rule Overturned

A 2015 rule aimed at extending overtime pay eligibility to over 4 million Americans has been defeated by a federal judge in Texas. Originally due to take effect December 1, 2016, the Obama-era rule roughly doubled the current salary eligibility limit from $23,660 to $47,476. Hourly workers under the threshold would be eligible for time-and-a-half wages after 40 hours weekly...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

8/20/2017 7:00 AM

Experience-Economy Consumers Driven by Relationships and Loyalty

Today’s dining and grocery consumers have a different agenda than their predecessors—and it’s a reflection of how they shop in general. The goal: “satisfy me.” With wants and needs on the line, these consumers are part of the experience economy, where simply eating a meal or buying groceries isn’t enough. The food choices these consumers make are part of an experience, and if the experience you provide doesn’t satisfy them, they’ll find other restaurants and purveyors...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

8/6/2017 7:00 AM

The Healthy Food Interests of Aging Consumers

The “alphabet” generations of X, Y (Millennials), and Z have gotten most of the attention lately from restaurants, food purveyors, and manufacturers. And while they do make up a large portion of consumers, restaurants and companies will do well to remember the 55-and-older consumers who still have a lot of life and eating ahead of them—and a good amount of money to spend. Even as youth culture continues to dominate, the reality of our world population actually getting older will dramatically impact the bottom line of food-based businesses. How retailers respond will determine if the impact is positive or negative...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

7/23/2017 7:00 AM

Replaced By Restaurant Automation?

Technology isn’t new in the restaurant industry, but customer-facing technology has only more recently taken hold in certain segments. Mobile ordering—like Domino’s robust system—and kiosks for payment (like at Chili’s or Olive Garden) or bypassing the line (like at Panera) have been effectively (though not widely) adopted in casual dining and quick service. Starbucks has been wildly successful with app payments, mobile ordering, and digital versions of their reloadable payment cards. Fine dining establishments have even adopted tablets (like the iPad) for their wine lists to keep the easier to update...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

7/9/2017 7:00 AM

Experts Disagree on Effects of Seattle's Minimum Wage Increase

In 2014, Seattle became the first major city to enact a minimum wage ordinance to gradually increase the pay rate, reaching $15 per hour by 2021. For employees of large companies without medical contribution, the $15 rate has already taken effect, but smaller employers are only obligated to $11 (with medical contribution) or $13 (without) per hour until the next increase in 2018...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

6/25/2017 7:00 AM

Generational Flavors: Menus for the "Ages"

Generational differences have long been recognized in shopping behavior, educational preferences, pop culture and media, and more. But it even affects patrons’ dining preferences and taste interests. Restauranteurs that understand the shared culture of each generation (and the differences among them) will have an edge in marketing and menu creation to reach each of these age groups...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

6/11/2017 7:00 AM

Happy Customers...But Will They Come Back?

Restaurant customer service has been a big focus as patrons—particularly millennials—seek a dining experience, not just a meal out. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s just one part of the equation that adds up to return visits, and industry-wide data is telling a concerning story...

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Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski

5/28/2017 7:00 AM

4 Ways to Save Costs Without Guest Service Charges

Feeling the pressure from rising restaurant overhead costs? Beyond rising ingredient costs as patrons demand clean and organic choices, many other business expenses are on the rise. Serving and cleaning supplies and other commodities cost more. Minimum wage is increasing at federal, state, and local levels. Real estate and rental costs are an increasing burden for in-demand locations—a growing challenge for established stores in newly-revitalized downtowns, for example...

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0 Comments | Posted By Mike Cielinski
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IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR CANADA RESIDENTS

Shipping to Canada may include UPS brokerage fees, duties and GST Tax.